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Joint CQUni and Tianjin University of Science and Technology research could help combat obesity

Joint CQUni and Tianjin University of Science and Technology research could help combat obesity

Published:15 May 2018

Members of the College of Food Engineering and Biotechnology, Tianjin University of Science and Technology. (L-R) Rui Yang, Jing Li, Qin Zhang, Yumei Jiang, Wenzhao Li, Padraig Strappe (CQUni), Zehua Liu, Zhongkai Zhou, Fang Wang. 

CQUniversity and Tianjin University of Science and Technology in China are conducting joint research into how modified starches such as resistant starch can reduce the symptoms of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Dr Padraig Strappe, Senior Lecturer for the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences recently outlined the research project to hundreds of health professionals at the Food Nutrition and Safety Conference in China.

“The conference was attended by academics and food industry representatives from across China and it was a great opportunity to describe CQUni’s research to such a diverse audience,” Dr Strappe said.

“It was also an opportunity to highlight how adding health benefits to foods adds value to exported products. China is a major export marker for Australian food and our collaborative research and development projects contribute to strengthening this trade and future markets.”

He said with obesity a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer in both Australia and China, more research was being conducted into resistant starch.

“Obesity is also increasing in China, particularly in children; our research has a common goal of developing novel functional foods with increased resistant starch,” Dr Strappe said.

“Resistant starch is found in oats, legumes such as peas, bean and lentils, green bananas and cooked and cooled rice or potatoes and avoids digestion in the stomach and travels to the lower intestines serving as a food source for our beneficial gut bacteria, sometimes referred to as the gut ‘microbiome’.

“Our microbiome produces nutrients and other molecules, particularly short chain fatty acids which can affect the formation of fat tissue, also known as adipogenesis and also improve the sensitivity of insulin in type 2 diabetes.

“The collaborative research is using cell culture models of adipogenesis to investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying the effects of resistant starch on the formation of fat tissue; this allows us to screen many variants of resistant starch and products from the microbiome to find the best combinations which may ultimately be beneficial to human health.”